MJSA’s At the Bench Live Returns to AGTA GemFair Tucson™ Tucson!

MJSA, the U.S. trade alliance dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, will again present its popular At the Bench Live series of hands-on demos at the 2020 AGTA GemFair Tucson. The sessions will run twice daily Feb. 6–8 as part of GemFair’s seminar program, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m.


MJSA’s interactive At the Bench Live sessions feature some of the industry’s most renowned jewelers demonstrating tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to common (and not so common) repair and fabrication projects. The 2020 GemFair sessions will include Joel McFadden presenting pavé and fishtail setting techniques; Lee Krombholz showing how to create unique textural finishes; and Gary Dawson on the overlooked opportunities CAD/CAM offers to bench jewelers.


All three presenters are also key contributors to the new MJSA Press book, At the Bench Vol. 2: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Jewelers of All Skill Levels, which will be available for sale. (McFadden also served as the book’s technical editor.)


The sessions are sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association (agta.org). Stuller Inc. (stuller.com) in Lafayette, Louisiana, will again serve as the Bench and Tool Sponsor.


The full schedule of sessions, with bios of the presenters, is listed below. For more information, go to MJSA.org.

February 6

Line ‘Em Up: Single-Row Pavé Setting

Presenter: Joel McFadden

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Single-row pavé, which consists of a line of small diamonds set into a narrow strip of metal, is a beautiful use of melee. Learn how to master this style to create a bold, brilliant look.


Scaling New Heights: Fishtail Setting

Presenter: Joel McFadden

3:30 to 5 p.m. The fishtail setting  gets its name from the way, when viewed from the side, its prongs flare into two sections and resemble a fishtail. Simple in appearance, it’s one of the most beautiful setting styles when done correctly—as this session will demonstrate.


About the Presenter: Joel McFadden is a third-generation jeweler who owns The Art of Jewelry By Joel McFadden (jmdjewelry.com), a custom-design studio in Red Bank, New Jersey. He is a frequent lecturer at industry trade shows (including MJSA Expo and the Atlanta Jewelry Show). He is also the director of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers and in 2017 was named the first MJSA Mentor Jeweler.

February 7

Finish Line: Creating Cool Textures

Presenter: Lee Krombholz

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Designers continue to use evocative textures—hammered, scratched, stippled, and more—to enhance their creations. See how, with a few basic tools and techniques (along with some imagination), you can add flair to your designs.


A Closer Look: Vintage Hand-Engraved Patterns

Presenter: Lee Krombholz

3:30 to 5 p.m. With modern bench microscopes, jewelers can more easily employ the techniques that hand engravers have used for hundreds of years. View a gallery of patterns and learn how you can re-create them for a vintage look.


About the Presenter: Lee Krombholz is a custom jeweler and third-generation owner of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati (krombholzjewelers.com). An award- winning designer, he is a founding member of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers. In 2018 the Council named him one of the first MJSA Mentor Jewelers. He is also a past president of the OJA/Mid-America Jewelers Association and a vice chair of the MJSA board of directors.

February 8

Marrying Tradition and Tech: CAD/CAM at the Bench

Presenter: Gary Dawson

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Computer-aided design and manufacturing can help bench jewelers as well as designers. Learn how CAD/CAM can be integrated with traditional bench techniques to streamline repairs and restoration, and breathe new life into small workshop businesses.


The Three Cs: Carving, CAD, and Casting

Presenter: Gary Dawson

3:30 to 5 p.m. Whether hand-carving models or creating them through CAD, bench jewelers must understand casting’s dynamics to ensure those models can become well-made jewelry. Discover tips and tricks for creating precise models that will lead to clean castings. 


About the Presenter: Gary Dawson is the owner of Gary Dawson Designs (garydawsondesigns.com), an online custom studio named a “Best of the Best” by Instore magazine. A certified Rhino CAD/CAM trainer and the chair of MJSA’s Council of Custom Jewelers, he has contributed his expertise through numerous articles, lectures, and workshops throughout the industry. In 2018 the Council named him one of the first MJSA Mentor Jewelers.